Universidad de los Andes – CESED


Centro de Estudios sobre Seguridad y Drogas


The Center for Studies on Safety and Drugs – CESED – emerged as an initiative of the Universidad de los Andes to promote a broad and informed debate on security and drug policies in Colombia. It is an interdisciplinary research center that seeks to promote academic research and analysis on issues related to production, trafficking and consumption of drugs, as well as research that contributes to improving the design and evaluations of public policy that address these issues.


Ana Maria Arjona
CESED Research and Policy Engagement Lead

I have a PhD in Political Science from Yale University. I am the Director of CESED at Los Andes University, and have been a professor at Northwestern University (Chicago, USA) for six years. I was a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University and a Visiting Fellow at the Kellogg Institute at the University of Notre Dame.

My research interests focus on political and criminal violence, local institutions and state building. I have been involved in projects on civil war (especially on recruitment of combatants and rebel governance), organized crime, and the legacies of violence. In this project I will be in charge of policy engagement in Colombia. I will also conduct research on the trajectories of local communities after the demobilization of FARC in areas where illicit drugs are produced or trafficked. I see these activities as a unique opportunity to advance our understanding of war to peace transitions as well as policy debates on illicit drugs and conflict intervention.

Catalina Mahecha
CESED Advocacy and Communications Lead

I have an Undergraduate degree in Political Science from Universidad de Los Andes, Master’s degree in Public Administration from la École Nationale d´Adminsitration (ENA) in France. I have worked closely with senior politicians and public functionaries in Colombia, and in France as a Chief of Staff. I started working at CESED in July 2016 as a Project Manager, and until June 2018 I was the director in charge of the centre.

My background allows me to undertake the advocacy strategy for CESED, while liaising with institutions, senators, mayors, and other high profile figures that work in drug policy. I have been in charge of organizing events and bilateral gatherings with the purpose of spreading knowledge on drug policy. I have also been part of regional and international meetings discussing drug policy. 

My role in this project is the planning, coordinating and executing the advocacy strategy; organizing meetings with decision makers, opinion leaders, political parties and the media; and organizing impactful conferences, meetings and events.

Tatiana Martinez Ferro
CESED Research Assistant

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Public Policies from Universidad de Los Andes. I´m an Economics master’s student at the Universidad de Los Andes. Currently I´m developing my master's thesis on the impact of illicit coca crops on municipal violence. I have a special interest in the study of illegal economies.

I worked as an analyst for a private consulting firm, monitoring and researching economic movements, acquiring investigative and analytical skills. I have experience in project evaluation related to economic policies.

In the Drugs & (dis)order project I am part of the CESED management team, filling out the ethics and project information reports, assisting research and working on the construction of a database with information on illicit crops, armed conflict and municipal characteristics in Colombia, at the municipality level.

Edgar Castro
CESED Pre-doctoral Researcher and Assistant

I have an undergraduate and master’s degree in economics from the Universidad de Los Andes. I was a research fellow at the Inter-American Bank and I have served as a consultant for the Colombian Ministry of Labour. I am currently a PhD student in economics at George Mason University in the US. As a PhD. student, I held a graduate assistant position at the Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, (ICES), at George Mason University.

My research focuses on designing tools for public policy by using rigorous empirical and theoretical insights from economics and behavioural sciences. Currently, I am investigating the role of government intervention in the construction of social norms.

In Drugs & (dis)order, my role is to identify process and analyse data on drugs and security; prepare literature reviews, articles and policy analysis reports using data and statistical evidence.

Juan Pablo Castilla
CESED Research Assistant

I have an undergraduate degree in economics, with a minor in philosophy from Universidad de Los Andes. I am a Masters student in Economics at the Universidad de Los Andes. I am a teaching assistant for undergraduate classes, such as History of Economic Thought, Theories of Justice, Public Policies and Microeconomics.

My role in the Drugs & (dis)order project is to assist with research activities, including data collection, analysis and writing academic papers. I also produce public reports on leading research in security and crime from across Latin America.